Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Budget for FY 2012

Speakers (l-r) Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Henry Kelly, Fred Sissine, Scott Sklar

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Budget for FY 2012

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
2325 Rayburn House Office Building

On March 1, 2011, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus held a briefing on the Obama administration’s budget request for energy efficiency and renewable energy for fiscal year 2012. As the administration and many Congressional leaders call for increased investments in clean technology to create jobs, improve national energy security, and ensure the United States remains competitive globally, federal agencies also are looking for innovative ways to stretch and trim budgets in a tight fiscal environment. At this briefing, representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Congressional Research Service gave an overview of requested funding levels for various programs, the budget priorities and their justification, and provide context on how these amounts compare to overall energy funding in previous years.

Speakers for this event included:

  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Co-Chair, House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus
  • Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Co-Chair, House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus
  • Henry Kelly, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy
    Presentation (pdf format)
  • Fred Sissine, Energy Policy Specialist, Resources, Science & Industry Division, Congressional Research Service
    Presentation (pdf format)
  • Scott Sklar, Chair, Steering Committee, Sustainable Energy Coalition; President, Stella Group, Ltd.
    Presentation (pdf format)

EESI Factsheet: Obama Administration FY 2012 Budget Proposal

Audio recording of briefing and Q&A (mp3)

Highlights from Speaker Presentations

  • Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) opened the briefing by encouraging newer Members of Congress to join the bipartisan Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus. Rep. Bartlett called for more action in the face of the “perfect storm” of peak oil, growing industrial demand for energy, China and India’s increasing energy demand, and unrest in the oil-producing states of the Middle East.
  • Henry Kelly, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the Department of Energy (DOE), outlined several key priorities of the Office of EERE as reflected in the budget proposal:
    1. Security - the need to advance a diversity of domestic energy sources
    2. Environmental protection - current energy use affects air and water quality, climate change
    3. Economy - clean technology innovation and deployment can be a central driver in creating new jobs
  • In DOE’s Buildings Technologies Programs, the priority will be on building components and systems, especially for commercial buildings (there are approximately 90 billion square feet of commercial space in the country). The Better Buildings Initiative would improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020 through expanded grants to state and local governments and appliance standards.
  • DOE will continue research and support toward achieving the goal of 1 million electric vehicles (EV) in the market by 2015, improving battery storage technologies, and developing EV infrastructure.
  • DOE’s “Sunshot” initiative is intended to achieve an installed price of $1/Watt for photovoltaic solar systems, the point at which the technology should be able to compete in the marketplace without subsidies. Dr. Kelly noted it is achievable, and if we don’t do it, other countries will.
  • DOE will continue working on upgrading hydroelectric dams and researching hydrokinetic water technology projects started through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • DOE is on its way to meeting its goal of bringing cellulosic ethanol to a competitive price. It will soon be possible to mix corn or cellulose-based fuels without a blend limit into diesel or aviation fuel.
  • The total DOE request for energy programs is up 16.1 percent ($1.7 billion), with EERE up overall by 44.4 percent. Fred Sissine of the Congressional Research Service believed this represented the largest dollar increase ever for EERE in a regular year request. The EERE increase would be partially offset by reductions in the fossil energy program.
  • Approximately $1 billion in increased spending from FY 2010 appropriations would be concentrated in buildings, industry, vehicles, and solar. About $250 million more would go to biomass, geothermal, and wind; $123 million more would go toward weatherization.
  • Approximately $370 million in cuts would apply mostly to Congressional earmark projects ($292 million), but also to hydrogen ($69.8 million) and water technologies ($10.2 million).
  • Worldwide private sector investment in clean energy technologies increased from $39 billion in 2001 to almost $337 billion in 2009.
  • Twenty-two recent peer-reviewed studies have shown that we could meet all of our global and U.S. energy needs through energy efficiency and renewable energy. The role of DOE, according to Scott Sklar, Chair of the Sustainable Energy Coalition, is to accelerate the timeframe.
  • Mr. Sklar criticized DOE for de-emphasizing hydrogen programs because doing so would reduce a needed energy storage technology. In addition, he said de-emphasizing advanced water technologies would be a mistake given that they produce emissions-free baseload power, the resources (rivers, oceans) are near population centers, and the private sector has invested approximately $6 billion in these technologies in the last year alone.

Related Media Coverage


The President’s budget request for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is $3.2 billion. With the exception of water power (21 percent decrease), the proposed budget would increase funding for the other renewable energy programs (biomass: 57 percent increase, solar: 87 percent increase, geothermal: 135 percent increase, wind: 60 percent increase), while the DOE’s fossil energy program budget would drop by 44 percent compared to FY 2010 appropriations. DOE has requested larger budgets for energy efficiency initiatives in the vehicle technologies (93 percent increase) and buildings programs (115 percent increase), as well as industry-focused energy efficiency (230 percent increase), and weatherization and intergovernmental activities programs — which include the State Energy Program (46 percent overall increase and a 12 percent increase for the State Energy Program).

For more information, contact EESI at climate [at] or (202) 662-1892.

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